What's my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world, you ask? Why, it's Bob's Steak & Chop House, of course. Had you asked me this very question about 29 or 30 years ago, however, I would have no doubt responded, "Chuck E. Cheese!" It's amazing how time changes your perspective. What I once valued as the ultimate dining experience now holds the appeal of eating cheese-covered cardboard, surrounded by bratty children screaming to be heard over the digital beeping and bells of video games and ski ball scoreboards. No thank you--I'll pass! But back in the day, there was no place on earth more exciting than Chuck E. Cheese.
I loved jumping around in the brightly colored balls that always reeked of stinky feet, yet that didn't seem to bother me at the time. I can also remember with fondness, the costumed characters onstage moving in time to the music of The King while I sat there in the audience and sang along. In fact, one Sunday after church, my family and I were eating lunch in a restaurant when Elvis came on the jukebox. I remember hearing that familiar voice, my eyes lighting up and leaning over and telling my mom, "That man sounds just like The King from Chuck E Cheese!" Little did I know at such an early age that the voice of Elvis didn't originally hail from the moving mouth of an oversized robotic mouse.
Yes, time most definitely changes your perspective. What were some of my favorite sitcoms growing up now seem beyond cheesy and are characterized by horrific acting and awful story lines. But back then, man, Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski rocked my TV world!
A few days ago, as I watched my niece bounce off the walls while coming down from her ice cream sugar high, I looked upon her burst of energy with feelings of nostalgia. Surely at some point, I too, had that same level of energy, right? I can barely recall. It's ironic that, as a child, all you want to do is forgo mid-afternoon naps and then stay up late, yet, as an adult, I would kill for a nap and I'm in bed no later than 9:30 every night. So apparently, this girl has aged 80 years in a mere span of 32. Maybe that's why Jeremy calls me "Grandmother" on a somewhat-daily basis.
Well, I may not be as quite spry as I once was, and I may not enjoy frequenting the same hangouts of even my college days...but I have matured in more ways than one. So summer vacation no longer exists, and staying up late means catching the opening segment of Jay Leno's monologue. Who cares? At least I get my eight hours worth of sleep every night.
I may now prefer eating in restaurants boasting white, linen tablecloths using utensils that I don't have to remove from plastic wrap to enjoy a juicy, rare steak, washed down by a bold, oak-y wine. So my perspective and tastes have changed--such is life. But I'll always recognize the soulful sound of The King when he comes on the radio because, quite honestly, some things never change.